Clayton Kershaw has personal-best scoreless and winning streaks to uphold, and he's getting a chance to extend them against the team he no-hit in particularly impressive fashion a little more than two weeks ago.
This time the success will have to take place in Colorado, where the Los Angeles Dodgers will continue a four-game series Friday night against the plummeting Rockies in Jair Jurrjens' Colorado debut.
Kershaw (9-2, 2.04 ERA) hasn't allowed a run in his last three starts and has a 28-inning scoreless stretch dating back to the middle of his win over Arizona on June 13. It's the seventh longest single-season streak in Dodgers history and best for a Dodgers pitcher since Orel Hershiser's MLB-record 59-inning run in 1988.
He completed June with a 6-0 record, 0.82 ERA and 0.68 WHIP, all MLB bests, with 61 strikeouts in 44 innings.
"He's been the best pitcher in the world," Matt Kemp told MLB's official website.
Kershaw won his sixth consecutive start Sunday, surrendering five hits with 13 strikeouts in seven innings of a 6-0 win over St. Louis. He's now within seven innings of the next four streaks on the franchise list, which are held by Sandy Koufax (33 innings in 1963), Hershiser (33 2-3, 1984), Fernando Valenzuela (35, 1981) and Don Sutton (35, 1972).
The Rockies best remember the early stages of the streak, in which they were no-hit in the left-hander's 15-strikeout, 107-pitch gem on June 18. Kershaw has won both of his starts against them this season, the first coming at Coors Field on June 8, but he's 6-3 with a 5.03 ERA in 14 career starts in Colorado. The ERA matches his at Angel Stadium for the highest among all ballparks he's appeared at more than once.
Jurrjens (0-0, 0.00) was acquired Wednesday from Cincinnati, where he didn't make an appearance after signing a minor league deal in May. The former All-Star had a 4.46 ERA in six starts at Triple-A Louisville. He's the 13th starter the club will use this season, the most in the majors.
The right-hander, who pushes Jorge De La Rosa back in the rotation to avoid a third straight confrontation with Kershaw when the clubs meet, made two appearances for Baltimore a season ago and is 3-2 with a 3.99 ERA against the Dodgers.
"He's had some health issues, but not necessarily tied to his arm, but some lower-half issues, which is a good thing if you're a pitcher," manager Walt Weiss said. "We're very young right now on the mound. Guys are doing their best. They're battling. But it does help to have a guy with some experience that's got the ball in his hand."
Hanley Ramirez, who returned to the starting lineup Thursday, is 7 for 22 with three home runs, a triple and a double against Jurrjens while Andre Ethier is 6 for 13 and Juan Uribe is 5 for 9 with a homer and two doubles.
The teams began the series Thursday with Los Angeles' 3-2 victory. The Dodgers (49-39) regained first place in the NL West behind three hits and an RBI from Uribe as the third baseman boosted his average to .474 with 12 RBIs in his last 11 games at Coors Field.
"It feels good where we're at, and it's where we want to be," manager Don Mattingly said.
The Rockies (36-50) lost for the 15th time in 17 games as a once-crippling lineup has become ordinary and unable to carry a Colorado staff that has a 6.22 ERA during the skid.
Justin Morneau and DJ LeMahieu each collected two hits and have nine-game hitting streaks, over which Morneau is batting .459. The first baseman drove in a run and has 20 RBIs in his last 10 home games.